Hangzhou Spark (2-3) 1-3 San Francisco Shock (2-2)
The Hangzhou Spark headed into Week 3 looking to regain their momentum after a difficult Week 2. They started out with another challenge, facing off against the San Francisco Shock. Despite the Shock’s losses so far, they appear strong and organized, and many expect them to have a playoffs run in them.
After taking on the Spark, they’re one step closer. Although Hangzhou generally looked more cohesive than they did last week, the Shock continue to play hard and smart. After some tough fights on both sides, the San Francisco Shock took the series with a 3-1 victory.
Ilios: Hangzhou 2-1 San Francisco
The Shock started off strong on Lighthouse, fending off many of Hangzhou’s attacks with ease. Some well-timed picks from Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon allowed the Spark to gain the edge in a few team fights, letting them gain control of the point for a while. However, the Shock quickly regained the advantage, often overwhelming the Spark in team fights. San Francisco took the first round.
The Spark rallied for their trip to the Ruins. They quickly pushed San Francisco away and took the point, holding them back while their capture percentage ticked on. Strong performances from Ho-jin “iDK” Park and Jun-Ki “Bazzi” Park led the way, and Hangzhou took the second round with little resistance.
Hangzhou kept the momentum going on Well, where they overpowered the Shock and took control from the beginning. They decisively held on through the map, as San Francisco struggled to find footing. As the map drew to a close, a two-kill boop into the well from iDK sealed the deal. Hangzhou took the map with a 2-1 victory.
Hollywood: San Francisco 1-0 Hangzhou
After swapping out Xu “guxue” Qiulin and bringing in Da-un “NoSmite” Jeong, the Spark continued on. NoSmite proved to be a solid substitute, leading the way in Hangzhou’s airtight defense. They stopped any attack San Francisco could come up with in its tracks, shutting them out entirely in the end. Hangzhou full-held the Shock, setting the stage for what should have been an easy second map.
Once the teams switched roles, however, San Francisco figured it out. Attack was a much slower game for Hangzhou, as the two teams rotated around each other while the clock ticked down. When the Spark finally broke the stalemate, the Shock answered by wiping them out. With the help of well-timed Graviton Surges from Jay “sinatraa” Won, San Francisco broke down the offense, leaving them unable to make the minimal progress they needed. Through a commendable hold, the Shock took the map with a 1-0 score.
Temple of Anubis: San Francisco 4-2 Hangzhou
Bazzi stepped out for this map, replaced by Jae-hwan “Adora” Kang. With a rejuvenated roster, Hangzhou provided a solid defense, staving off the Shock for a good chunk of the time. Eventually, San Francisco broke through, wiping out the defenses and taking point A. That was all the momentum they needed, as they snowballed through to point B before Hangzhou could reorganize themselves. After one last brawl, the Shock completed the map with plenty of time to spare.
On attack, the Spark chose to match their opponent’s energy, kicking things off with an aggressive push. The plan proved successful, as they quickly broke down the Shock’s defense and cleared point A. Although San Francisco reconvened for one last defense, a two-kill Self Destruct from Seong-Wook “Ria” Park gave the Spark the last push they needed to break through. They completed the map as well, sending it to a second round.
Though their point A defense wasn’t as successful this time around, the Spark still put up a solid fight against San Francisco’s second attack. The Shock still cleared the point with plenty of time to spare, forcing the Spark to act quick and avoid another snowball. This time, they came prepared. Hangzhou managed to hold point B well into overtime with an inspiring stall that nearly turned the tides back in their favor. In the end, however, the Shock pushed back once more, finishing the map a second time.
Hangzhou couldn’t keep up the momentum for their second attack. San Francisco’s off-tank, Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson, proved especially formidable on D.Va, frequently eating ultimates and denying the Spark’s plans. With him at the helm, the Shock’s defense was too strong, and Hangzhou couldn’t get the footing they needed. With a full hold on point A, the Shock took the map with a 4-2 score.
Route 66: San Francisco 3-0 Hangzhou
Hangzhou made a few quick roster changes before the last map of the night, bringing back Bazzi for Adora and subbing in Hyeong-Geun “Revenge” An for BeBe. The squad began their defense with an interesting composition, starting Revenge on Hanzo, Bazzi on Widowmaker, and Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim on Bastion. Although they started off strong, they switched back to a standard 3-3 composition once their initial plans fell apart. By then, the Shock had broken through their defenses, pushing through point A and much of point B with only some resistance from the Spark. Near the end of the map, Hangzhou pushed back once more, forcing down the Shock’s time bank a bit more before they fell. San Francisco completed the map.
Attack proved difficult as well, as the Spark struggled against an aggressive defense. With ferocious main-tanking from Matthew “super” DeLisi leading the charge, it took time for Hangzhou to begin moving the payload at all. Though they inched closer to point A, a boop-Earthshatter combo from super and Grant “moth” Espe stopped the team in their tracks, and they couldn’t reorganize with the time they had left. The Spark stopped just before point A, leading to a 3-0 victory on Route 66 and a 3-1 victory overall for the Shock.
Hangzhou appears to still be struggling a bit, but so far they look more organized than they did last week. The Shock took some time to really come to life during this game, and the Spark were able to take advantage of that in several fights. If they can lock down their communications and strategies, they’ll certainly continue to improve through the season. With only two stage games left for the Spark, Stage 1 playoffs look unlikely at this point. However, if they can regroup for some good fights against the Los Angeles Gladiators and Toronto Defiant, they could still end the stage on a high note.
The Spark’s Stage 1 journey continues on March 3, with a match against the Los Angeles Gladiators. Be sure to tune in!
Follow Darby on Twitter @soundchecck! She is happy to talk about anything she’s written! You can also get in touch with her on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark.
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